Police Reform in Cleveland: 100 Years Project

The CPC’s 100 Year Project documents the history of policing and police reform in Cleveland from 1922 to the present. Follow our timeline starting in Cleveland in the 1920s, or see past reform recommendations made by policing topic. This is an ongoing project and we encourage all interested individuals and organizations to join us in expanding on this research.

Policing Topic:

Community & Problem Oriented Policing (CPOP)


Community and Problem Oriented Policing is a major component of the 2015 Consent Decree. There have been many recommendations in the past for community policing reforms, this includes the debate around the use of police mini-stations (storefront stations).

The police relying on citizen input to help address crime is as old as policing. One major innovation initiated by Eliot Ness was to go into troubled communities and ask them what they needed from police, as he famously did when he met with young people in Tremont and asked them what they wanted from policing. They needed jobs and better access to recreation, providing these and improving social welfare services were the reasons why juvenile delinquency dropped substantially during his tenure.

Building community confidence is essential for community policing to work, so efforts made to do this are not wasted. Establishing an environment where everyone, especially minorities, want to work with police officers is essential to effective policing. This was emphasised by the US Commission on Civil Rights in 1967, and again by Mayor Michael White’s Minority Recruitment Task force in 1997. This is again emphasised in the 2015 Consent Decree.

Citizens also have to see officers and have opportunities to interact with them in a positive way. The CPOP Plan outlines the current proposed reforms, but the discussion on how to get officers and citizens to regularly interact has been debated from the beginning. A key debate has been how to make officers accessible; the 1922 Survey first recommended the idea of mini-stations as a way to maintain interactions between officers should the city follow the Survey’s recommendation to consolidate police stations.

Ness implemented this recommendation in the late 1930s, cutting down the number of police precincts from 17 to 6; the reason was that the larger number of precincts meant that they were disorganized, prone to disputes about jurisdiction, and made police corruption easier. Similar problems were observed when Mini-stations were introduced in the 1980s, only adding that they were now involved in neighborhood politics, according to a report by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Despite these problems, many citizens still liked them, and they were eventually disbanded in the 2000s for budgetary reasons. See the CPC’s report on mini-stations for more details.

Timeline of Key Reports & Recommendations

The timeline below summarizes the recommended reforms related to Community & Problem-Oriented Policing (CPOP) from the reports & documents that reviewed Cleveland police operations and encouraged reform. These are not the exact words from the text, but are summarized by our researchers as best as possible – highlighting key points and phrases.

Summary of Recommendations:
1920s - 1930s

See all Key Reform Recommendations of the 20s & 30s 1920s - 1930s

Summary of Recommendations:
1940s - 1950s

  • No highlights for this particular area. Please check back as our analysis continues.

See all Key Reform Recommendations of the 40s & 50s 1940s - 1950s

Summary of Recommendations:
1960s - 1970s

See all Key Reform Recommendations of the 60s & 70s 1960s - 1970s

Summary of Recommendations:
1980s - 1990s

See all Key Reform Recommendations of the 80s & 90s 1980s - 1990s

Summary of Recommendations:
2000s - Present

  • A detailed list of all reform efforts for this time period can be found in the Consent Decree. Read the Consent Decree here or click below to see all documents and recommendations in the 2000’s - present

See all Key Reform Recommendations of the 2000s - Present 2000s - Present

Continuing the Research

The CPC’s research into the documented history of the Cleveland police is ongoing as part of the 100 Years Project. We will be looking further into the topic of CPOP by analyzing past recommendations concerning community policing, mini-stations, and police vehicles.

By looking into Cleveland’s past, the CPC aims to help the community gain a better understanding of what policing practices have been successful, what issues exist, and what lessons still need to be learned to move forward in creating a more sustainable policing model for the future. If you are an individual or organization interested in joining us in taking a deeper dive into this information, please contact us to get involved in expanding on this research.

Join the Research

Please contact CPC Senior Policy Analyst, Ryan Walker, at rwalker@clecpc.org to get involved in expanding on this research.

Schedule a Presentation

CPC researchers are available for interviews and custom presentations for schools, groups or organizations interested in this project or its findings.

Questions or Feedback

We welcome your questions & comments about this project. Contact us via the information listed on our contact page or start a conversation on our community forum.

100 Years Project: Explore by Decade or Topic

Read about key reform recommendations made by year, or learn about how each police reform issue area mandated by the 2015 Consent Decree compares to recommendations made in the past.